Boris Johnson on manoeuvres

I was woken this morning to the somewhat odd news that the Foreign Secretary was going to press for more cash for the NHS at Cabinet. It was not known whether the health secretary was on board with this. Perhaps Jeremy Hunt wants to give priority to the hiring of more diplomats and trade negotiators. After all, war is bad for your health, and the NHS relies on a strong economy.

Laura Kuenssberg offers an explanation for this, fine as far as it goes, along the lines of Brexiteers wanting to be seen to deliver on their promise on the side of the Brexit bus for more money for the NHS. It wouldn’t quite do that – the promise was that there would be more money available that would then be spent on the NHS, not that the government should borrow more or cut elsewhere or raise taxes to boost the NHS, those being the options available today. Options which were not offered during the Brexit debate because they would have been blatantly changing the subject.

The Prime Minister’s responses have been weak, both to the current winter crisis, and to the cross-party letter calling for a cross-party NHS and social care convention to ensure a long term settlement for the NHS.

Can we add Boris Johnson to the list of grown-ups? Somehow I doubt it.

If you want to press for something in cabinet you press for it. If you announce it on the Today programme beforehand, that is political manoeuvres; it is disloyalty to the government that would see a lesser mortal sacked. And, perversely, it may make the cash injection less likely because now it would be seen as a weak concession by the Prime Minister.

And the Brexiters want to hold up their hands on the money for the NHS and say “well at least we tried” when they did nothing of the kind.

* Joe Otten was the candidate for Sheffield Heeley in June 2017 and Doncaster North in December 2019 and is a councillor in Sheffield.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • nigel hunter 23rd Jan '18 - 10:10am

    They used to be 4% investment each year until 2011-12. Then it stopped for a number of years and stayed at 111 billion. I do not know how many, say, for example 3. That is three years of underfunding if the rate of 4% is not continued has this deficit been eliminated and now the 4% been re-introduced? Therefore is the money now put into the NHS consistent to the 4% yearly increase.As a result is it still being underfunded?
    Along with this as there is more pressure on the NHS should this 4% be increased? Also now that the Social care portfolio has been put into Hunts hands how much money will be put into this?

  • I wish Sir Vincent Cable would get on manoeuvres – with regard to PFI schemes. Hardly a peep about the PFI scandal apart from calling for an inquiry. Has he got nothing to say? As for Boris, he’s being Boris applying his imaginary Brexit world of millions for the NHS with the aim of getting press publicity – a kind of virtual reality.

  • Two antidotes to our national discourse being plagued by the ludicrous Cabinet Minister… always refer to him as Mr Boris Johnson (or perhaps Mr Johnson) and amuse yourself by trying to remember the correct name of his Parliamentary Constituency – a useful quiz question.

  • The ‘invisible man’; aka Jeremy Hunt is, as usual, nowhere to be seen (although the recent headline about a tapeworm in California left me wondering)….

    There will be no ‘new’ money for the NHS…After all, prior to the winter of 2016-17, Theresa May told the head of NHS England that the “£22bn ‘hole’ must be filled by efficiency savings”… That, despite warnings that hospitals were close to breaking point….
    Hunt intended that his promised ‘extra money’ would come from more ‘private contracts’ although the Carillion disaster will have put that on temporary hold…

    As a country, we pay far less than the European average to our health system; until that changes there will be no improvement…and that won’t happen under a Tory administration…

    Anyone looking into our role in this situation needs just to remember how Nick Clegg and the parliamentary party backed David Cameron’s top-down NHS reorganisation from the start. It was passed thanks to Lib Dem votes, and we must share responsibility for wasting £3billion plus on a top-down NHS reorganisation and its aftermath….

  • Can’t we switch to a (universal) social insurance system like Germany? Monopoly providers never lead to adequate levels of service.

  • Tony Greaves 23rd Jan '18 - 11:53am


  • Richard Underhill 23rd Jan '18 - 12:43pm

    Tony Greaves is wise to say “No” to an insurance based system for health, which would create a lot of extra administration.
    I have worked in the Ministry of Health and the Department of Health and Social Security and would not want a further breakup of the “National” Health Service. For example data from large groups of people makes possible research outcomes which would be unreliable from smaller groups. I continue to regret the decision of the incoming Labour Government to abolish the Harness programme for building hospitals.

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Jan '18 - 12:51pm

    Boris Johnson could be welcomed with “Hey Big Spender”.
    A new airport which would cause the closure of Heathrow without environmental advantages?
    A bridge across the English Channel / La Manche? (which would block some seaborne traffic). The contract for the tunnel provided that a second tunnel should be built or the option to build it should be given up. What happened to that? If Boris does not know he should do more research before shooting his mouth off.

  • John Marriott 23rd Jan '18 - 1:38pm

    I would ignore Mr Johnson and concentrate on how we can afford to deliver health and social care into the future.
    Firstly ALL serious political parties must stop trying to score brownie points off each other. Secondly we need a Royal Commission, with a commitment to implement its findings. In the meantime, even if savings can be found (I’m not convinced that this is impossible) the service still needs a regular cash injection. SO, let’s dust off that old Lib Dem proposal and put a hypothecated 1% on the Basic Rate of Income Tax.
    In or out of the EU and with or without a Royal Commission, we need more home grown doctors and nurses. I would continue to offer bursaries to trainees/undergraduates but with this proviso: anyone undertaking training/study should commit themselves to working in the NHS for at least four years wherever there were vacancies before considering plying their trade either in the private sector or abroad. Failure to honour this agreement would mean that they would have to repay the public funds they received.

  • Simon Gamble 23rd Jan '18 - 1:48pm

    Perhaps we should also be asking why the BBC did exactly what Johnson wanted by making this the lead item on the news this morning. The whole item was little more than an early part of his upcoming leadership campaign.

  • OnceALibDem 23rd Jan '18 - 2:36pm

    Nigel Hunter is right. Had the NHS funding between 2010 and 2015 increased at the average rate it did under the 79-97 Tory Governments most of the ‘funding shortfall’ talked of today would not exist. Tax cuts, not increased NHS spending were the prioirty then so this is to some extent the Nick Clegg crisis.

  • nigel hunter 23rd Jan '18 - 2:45pm

    Johnson knows he is fireproof and can say what he likes cos if he is sacked the Tory right will be up in arms and cause trouble for May, ie a leadership contest that could wreck the Tory party.The Tories are about themselves NOT the country. They have not got the guts to raise taxes or be radical.

  • Tony Dawson 23rd Jan '18 - 2:53pm

    Boris is trying to land a big blow on Hunt (who is his closest real rival to succeed ‘Weak and Unstable’ May – and seeking to do this before his hair thins to the point he is ringing up Donald Trump seeking a transplant. The man has no scruples whatsoever. In the meantime, Michael Gove (who doesn’t realise that his personal geekiness rules him out of ever being allowed to ‘front’ anything serious up) will try to play the role of the Earl of Warwick if he has any sense. Though more likely to adopt the role of not-so-bonny prince utter charlie.

  • nigel hunter 23rd Jan '18 - 3:03pm

    The drop in NHS funding came when Andrew Lansley ‘the great reformer’ was the Health Secretary. and Osborne was the Chancellor. Did they come to a ‘deal’ together to start the present rot?.

  • nigel hunter 23rd Jan ’18 – 3:03pm….The drop in NHS funding came when Andrew Lansley ‘the great reformer’ was the Health Secretary. and Osborne was the Chancellor. Did they come to a ‘deal’ together to start the present rot?….

    Ask Sir Nicholas William Peter Clegg…

  • William Fowler 23rd Jan '18 - 3:52pm

    NHS probably needs 25 billion to sort it out, more like 5p tax than 1p tax on income. Boris would slash back benefits to free up some much needed money but can he get elected on that ticket? Most likely outcome is going to be to take NHS back to basic services, dump stuff like grief counseling, gender reassignment etc… one of the reasons that A and E is so busy is that GP’s just refer people to hospital anyway so may as well shortcut them – lots of walk-in clinics where they can do minor surgery rather than more huge hospitals or more GP’s might work (astonishingly, Hunt tends to close down walk-in clinics). Also five year residence test before anyone can use NHS for free.

  • Arnold Kiel 23rd Jan '18 - 4:26pm

    Is Mr. Johnson aware that any sudden cash injection into the NHS would only produce additional healthcare if additional European medical personnel immigrated at a rate that substantially exceeds the one at which they currently emigrate? Not even the full 350 million a week would buy him back the trust of continental Europeans.

  • nvelope2003 23rd Jan '18 - 5:32pm

    As London Mayor Johnson scrapped a lot of serviceable buses which had years of life left in them in order to buy the Borismasters which had a conductor or “passenger assistant” and cost a lot more than conventional buses. The conductors were sacked soon after the new Mayor took over and it is no longer possible to get on or off except at bus stops for safety reasons, which is as it should be. He is a self publicist waster.

  • Red Liberal 23rd Jan '18 - 5:48pm

    @William Fowler “Also five year residence test before anyone can use NHS for free.” Screw that. If they are working hard and paying National Insurance, they and their dependents should get to use the NHS, same as with the sainted natives. Join UKIP if you want to rob healthcare from EU citizens.

  • Red Liberal, Mr Fowler was a self confessed active Conservative until a few weeks ago but he left them in a huff. He then somehow stumbled across the Liberal Democrat Party but I’m afraid he has brought his pre-existing nostrums with him.

  • Red Liberal,

    I wish i had your way with words, but I can empathises with your sentiments.

  • It’s a national health service and we don’t have contribution based system. The thing is the NHS was developed by British Governments to serve the “sainted” locals. It is after all the National Health Services not the European Health Service or the International Health Service. Personally, I don’t agree with the five year rule idea as it is a bit mean. However, it would be sort of nice if people stopped insulting locals when talking about a service designed for locals.

  • Red Liberal 23rd Jan '18 - 7:31pm

    Why shouldn’t hardworking EU citizens who have residency be allowed to use the NHS? They pay tax and NI. The pamphlet distributed when it was founded famously said that it wasn’t a charity but was funded by taxpayers. Also, we have reciprocal arrangements for British citizens to use the public health systems in other EU nations.

  • At times Glen i feel like I’m talking to a resident of Royston Vasey. What next ” a local shop, for local people”. It is such a pity we need foreigners to fulfill certain roles, if we didn’t we could just pull up the drawbridge and forget about the world. If only life was that simple, but it isn’t.

  • Frankie
    The clues is in the name NATIONAL Heath Service. It’s a national institution. The product of a nation state. Like the police or parliament. Anyway, Frankie I’m not getting into this with you , coz actually you’re just rude.

  • Graham Evans 23rd Jan '18 - 9:49pm

    @ nvelope2003: There are still some bus routes where you can get on and off between bus stops even though there is only a driver manning the bus. The problem is that only regular users of the service seem to know clearly on what part of the route this arrangement applies. What is worse, on these sections of the route there is often a big gap between bus stops so if you are unfamiliar with an area catching a bus is pretty hit and miss. Personally I much prefer regular bus stops which avoids confusion.

  • Graham Evans 23rd Jan '18 - 10:04pm

    @ Red Liberal. In Germany, as in several other European countries with insurance based systems, there is actually very little competition between suppliers. Except for civil servants and higher paid employees, the insurance premiums are laid down by the state, so the insurance companies themselves are mere agencies of the state. Essentially the state has merely contracted out the administration of taking in contributions and paying the bills for treatment. I think a similar situation applies in France. I know less about how the hospitals operate but unlike the UK you can go direct to see a consultant and do not have to go via your GP. However there has been talk in the past of changing this to contain costs and avoid unnecessary referrals. Incidentally in Germany there are still complaints that most people who have to rely on the state sponsored system of health care receive inferior treatment to those who pay for treatment themselves.

  • Peter Martin 23rd Jan '18 - 10:11pm

    @ William Fowler,

    “NHS probably needs 25 billion to sort it out, more like 5p tax than 1p tax on income”

    The financial system needed some £300 bn to sort it out after the 2008 GFC and that didn’t need an extra 60p in tax !

    “Also five year residence test before anyone can use NHS for free.”

    This is a pretty silly idea. What are you going to do when a cute little Polish girl is diagnosed with cancer after her parents have only been here for a couple of years? There’s bound to be something like that crop up before too long. You’ll be faced with the choice of scrapping the policy or letting her die for lack of medical treatment.

    If you’re ever in govt, it’s much smarter never to put yourself in that position.

  • Glenn 23rd Jan ’18 – 7:23pm……….. The thing is the NHS was developed by British Governments to serve the “sainted” locals. It is after all the National Health Services not the European Health Service or the International Health Service…..

    In 1948 there were an awful lot of ex-service Poles, Czechs, etc., who never returned to their respective countries.. Were they ‘locals’….

  • @ expats Glad you mentioned the Poles and the Czechs. Here’s a brief reminder of the most successful squadron (303 Squadron) in the Battle of Britain in 1940 -Polish, of course. It’s now forgotten that on Battle of Britain Day (15 September, 1940) there were actually more Polish than British pilots flying in the RAF that day. Mr Fowler owes his freedom to them.

    SQUADRON 303 MOVIE – YouTube
    Video for battle of britain movie polish squadron▶ 1:00

    Later in Normandy, some of my Dad’s best mates in 175 Squadron were Poles. He had the greatest admiration for them…… and the poor lads had nowhere to go back to after 1945.

  • Expats
    I was pointing out that the NHS is a National Health Service and was designed to serve a nation state. And this is true, whether you get annoyed about it or not.
    As for the other argument if servicemen/women stayed they became British. I also explicitly rejected the 5 year nonsense. Some of my ancestors were Jewish and I for one am thankful to the British people.

    Do you think it’s okay to make sneering comments about the “sainted locals”, if so why? And why would you expect them to vote for you?

  • OnceALibDem 24th Jan '18 - 9:04am

    When the Lib Dems are a home for William Fowler I am really comfortable with my decision not to be a member anymore!

  • Ian Sanderson.
    I agree with you on the Boris The Journalist thing. Although, I suspect he’s more from the showbiz end of things and sees politics as a substitute for being able act or juggle or dance or sing or something

  • Glenn 23rd Jan ’18 – 11:47pm…Expats…….I was pointing out that the NHS is a National Health Service and was designed to serve a nation state. ..Do you think it’s okay to make sneering comments about the “sainted locals”, if so why? And why would you expect them to vote for you?……..

    Having worked and lived abroad I never saw the NHS on any hospital south of Dover; so it is National…The NHS was started in 1948 (in my lifetime) and I never heard, until relatively recently, any outcry about health tourism..Anyway, the vast majority of ‘non-locals’ using the service are bona fide tourists; after all, we get around 40 million every year ….The reciprocal agreements that exist for UK citizens abroad is another plus..

    As for ‘sneering’; your use of the adjective ‘sainted’ is hardly neutral….

    My opinion on the current state of NHS is in my post #23rd Jan ’18 – 10:57am and can be summed up in three words; “More Resources Required”…If that is too long winded let’s try, “Money”

  • Jayne mansfield 24th Jan '18 - 9:56am

    @ Glenn,
    It may be a national health service, but in my neck of the woods, it is a national health service that is unrecognisable from the NHS of my childhood. It is an NHS that is just about functioning because of Europeans , (and those from commonwealth countries) who have trained our carers at the expense to their own economies.

    The difference between those who provide us with their services and locals in my areas, could not be more differentiated in terms of nationality.

    May I point you to the facts and the results of studies in an article:-

    ‘EU immigration and pressures on the NHS’ by the independent charity, Full Fact.

    It would be helpful if we started recouping costs of treating EU nationals efficiently in the way that other EU countries do. It never ceases to amaze me that politicians have failed to apply the law as is exists, whilst remaining within the EU. They bear a big responsibility for the hostility and misunderstanding towards immigrant workers who are seen as a drain on our economy and health system.

  • Exapats
    the “sainted” is in quotation marks because it’s a quote from another poster(red liberal) .
    And where did I say anything about health tourism or anything of the sort?

  • Jane
    And your point is? Again where did I say anything about not treating people? My original comment was a response to other posters on here.

  • Expats
    It would be sort of nice, if people could proffer an apology when they grabbed hold of the wrong end of the stick and tried beat people with it.

  • Glenn 24th Jan ’18 – 9:59am……..Exapats…..the “sainted” is in quotation marks because it’s a quote from another poster(red liberal)………..And where did I say anything about health tourism or anything of the sort?

    Apologies. I missed the first use of the word….As for ‘health tourism’… by your, “National Health Services not the European Health Service or the International Health Service.” what else were you referring to?

  • Expats,
    Apology accepted.
    Again the point I was making is that sneering a locals kind of missed the mark and it’s just a matter of fact that it is a National Health Service the product of a nation state, not something set up by international bodies. I do not think that there is much health tourism at all. I find a lot of the arguments from both sides of the debate turn into turf wars that I don’t really find convincing. My own view is that if 70% of the population want lower immigration then arguing like it is minority view is ludicrous and that endlessly trying to promote it is probably politically counter productive. IMO. it comes down to a debate between those trying to create better people out of a utopian belief in international brotherhood v managing things at an acceptable level within the limits of less than perfect human reality, which includes all kinds of awkwardness, not the least of which is elections .

  • Jayne mansfield 24th Jan '18 - 11:59am

    @ Glenn,
    My point is, that when one looks at the people who are most likely to care for me and other born and bred Britons in my area, one could be forgiven for thinking that it is a European or International health service.

  • Jayne
    One can be forgiven for thinking lots of things, but it’s just a fact that it’s a national health service.
    Anyway if I’ve offended you, I apologies.

  • Peter Martin 25th Jan '18 - 9:45am

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    The NHS has a staffing problem for a variety of reasons. From discussions I have had with people working within it, I would say that the rate of net migration between the EU and UK is a very minor factor.

    The main problem is that the work has become so intense, especially in most A&E depts, that most staff are burnt out after several years and have to be replaced. Do I hear you say by new arrivals from the EU?

    There are plenty of qualified doctors and nurses in the community who would be available to return to NHS hospitals if working conditions were more tolerable. And , of course, pay is a factor too.

  • Katerina Porter 25th Jan '18 - 11:10am

    I remember a time when people used to go over to France for hip operations etc on the reciprocity system because it was better and quicker. It was stopped because the system was not meant to deal with preexisting conditions but in my experience otherwise carries on in the way it was meant to.

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